By growing food, capturing rainwater and generating solar power on our rooftops, we can bring greater ecological balance and local resilience to our region. Through creative design strategies, we can deploy rooftop systems to take full advantage of new and existing buildings to help meet our local food, energy, and water needs.
But how much can our homes, businesses, and public buildings actually yield through rooftop gardens, solar energy, and rainwater catchment systems? To answer these questions, Bay Localize conducted a neighborhood assessment in Oakland with an engineering and urban planning team. We also assessed the architectural requirements for the rooftop systems, and identified best practices and design prototypes. Full results were published in Tapping the Potential of Urban Rooftops.
Through our analysis, we found that the area’s buildings could feasibly provide:
- 1.9 million gallons of irrigation water/year from rainwater harvesting, supplying the outdoor irrigation needs of ~212 households
- 11.6 million kWh/year of solar electricity, with 8.5 megawatts of capacity, supplying ~25% of the energy demand of the area
- 124 metric tons of leafy green and deep yellow vegetables/year from rooftop gardens, supplying the USDA-recommended intake for ~8,500 residents
These findings demonstrate the untapped potential of rooftop systems to meet critical needs in our communities. The Use Your Roof! Project (formerly the Rooftop Resources Project) educates the public about the many benefits of such systems and advocates for policies and incentives to scale up their development in our region and beyond.